Hashtags are dead. Long live hashtags! We know, it’s hard to keep up with what’s hot and what’s not in terms of Instagram Hashtags’ best practices. But, as we can all agree that the beauty of Instagram is its rapidly-changing nature, which nurtures an effervescent melting pot of novelties, we have no choice but to go with it.

And the best way to do so is by constantly keeping up to date with the newest rules that can turn your hashtag use into a successful tactic. If in 2017 we all got a bit paranoid thinking about the shadowban that could come upon us if we repeatedly used the same hashtags, it’s time to focus on what works…as of now. New year, new rules.

That being said, we’ve taken the time to research, analyze and test a bunch of hashtag techniques and we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks that will help you step up your game. Use them quickly to improve your Instagram marketing, before they change!

1. Thoroughly research new (and old) hashtags from your audience

Keeping a hot wire connected to the pulse of your audience is the vital lifeline of a successful Instagram presence. Whatever your followers do, you must keep your eyes and ears open. And this piece of advice couldn’t bear more truth than in the case of hashtags. This isn’t new, but it’s so important that it’s worth mentioning again and again.

If you don’t have time to regularly research and analyze the hashtags used by your target, make sure to establish some timeframe when it will be mandatory for you to do this. If you’re a fan of numbers, as we are, you can even draft some juicy statistics with the most used hashtags and other insightful info.

This technique will not only help you collect the best hashtags that will get you the most exposure, but it will also enable you to dig out other important info about your target. So, when in doubt, always turn to your customers. They know best.

2. Gather inspiration by following relevant hashtags

As of 5 minutes ago (or at least very recently), Instagram rolled out a new feature that enables you to follow hashtags. First of all, this is a HUGE opportunity for your brand and marketing initiatives. Why? Well because this means that if you hit the right hashtags, you will appear in the newsfeed of potential new followers, not only in the newsfeeds of the followers you already have. But this is not the only reason that makes this feature so very important.

With the follow hashtags feature, also comes the possibility for users to mark a specific content as not interesting or relevant by selecting “Don’t show for this Hashtag”. This means that now more than ever, you must pay even more attention to your hashtag selection process. Here, the aim is not to reach as many people as possible, but to reach the right people! Otherwise, your content will be marked and a red flag will be raised, potentially with negative effects on your account.

Another great way you can discover new hashtags with the “follow hashtags” feature is by quickly checking the list of suggested tags you can follow, all based on your interests. To do that, tap on the “following” tab on your profile and then on “hashtags”. Voila!

You can easily add the new hashtags to the caption library in Preppr and have them in handy for whenever you need them.

3. Keep your Hashtags fresh in every caption

As the world goes round, Instagram evolves and so do its hashtags. And even more so since last year has been drizzled with panic waves at the thought of a shadow ban that strictly punished accounts that overused the same hashtags.

Now, except panic, there’s another reason why you should mix things up and keep ‘em fresh: with new hashtags come new followers. Or so the legend goes. Joke aside, including new hashtags in your captions will expand your reach and tackle new followers. What’s more, since Instagram is a very “in-the-moment” platform, emerging trends play a big part of new hashtags. So, if you want to broom a contemporary look, make sure to give your hashtags a make-over with each new post.

Now, if you are asking yourself: but what new hashtags to use? Then, my fellow Instagramer, you haven’t been paying attention. Go back to step 1 and 2 in this post, re-read and then continue. Whatever you do, stay away from gimmick tags such as #likeforlike or other generic hashtags. While these will get you likes, they won’t get you quality followers and might do your profile more harm than good. Instead, go for hashtags that ring a bell about your business, your audience or special occasions for purchase.

Let’s take the example of Hello Fresh, a meal kit delivery service. Their captions show a combination of hashtags that describe their products like #salsa, #bloodorange, but also of hashtags that tackle their audience e.g. #foodie and consumption occasions such as #ValentinesDay and #GameDay. Oh, and look at how elegantly they are riding the wave of the avocado trend. Guacamole for the win!

 4. Follow trends as they emerge and jump on the wagon

We’ve already briefly suggested the importance of emerging trends, but it’s worth mentioning again in length. Staying up to date with the latest trends will not only give you loads of inspiration for hashtags, but it will also increase your chances of boosting engagement. If done right!

While leveraging trends can be a real asset to your marketing strategy, not all trends are created equally. At least not for your business. Before you go ahead and associate yourself with any new wave, make sure it represents the core values of your business. Or, at least, that it can easily become a part of your daily conversation with followers. Watch out! Supporting the wrong trend might get you in big trouble. Followers have a very good nose for smelling “attention-seeking brands”. So, always make sure to have a solid base for supporting and hashtaging any trend.

A great example of this case is the Avocado trend (yes, we love it too). Influencers, travel bloggers, meal kit companies, health specialists, they are all making the most out of this craze.

5. Add hashtags to your Instagram Stories

Adding hashtags to your Instagram Stories is more than just a nice visual way to pop up in the eyes of your followers. It’s also a great way to give your stories a better chance of popping up in front of potential new followers. While right now this feature isn’t very used, our gut feeling tells us that it’s soon going to become a big deal. So you know what to do! Start using it now, before everyone catches on.

To add a hashtag to your Instagram Story, go to the sticker tag in the right hand corner and then select the #hashtag option. Makes sense, right? Then, go for the hashtag that best captures your photo, or mood, or followers (c’mon, you already know this) and that’s it!

Now, let’s put a hashtag on it!

Knowing all these tactics is a great way to start your assent on Instagram. But you actually need to start using them in order to see things moving and followers…well, following. So what are you waiting for? Enough with the talking, let’s do some hashtaging!


Ilona Iftode is a copywriter with a taste for adventure. She lives to write, travel and explore new concepts in the realms of advertising, marketing, SEO and beyond.

1 Comment

  1. Great article IIona! Really like your point on mixing the hashtags as every unique hashtag brings more attraction. hashtags are the best way to expand our audience and reach. Bringing Engagement is the key issue even if we’re posting awesome images still, we need a strategy to get people to even see them and start following you and of course, Including trending Hashtags will widen our Discoverability. A quick question, is using hashtags less than 10000 hits provides any benefit and apart from hashtags what other ways to grow account organically? Here some additional resources I found out:
    Photography Hashtags
    Thank you.